Dangerous Plants for Pets in Montana

We all know why we live in Montana—because it is unbelievably wild and gorgeous here! We love the scenic array of flowers, trees, and plants that fill our landscapes and live in our gardens. However, if you’re out hiking, hunting, or just walking through your neighborhood with your pet, you need to watch out for dangerous plants. In Montana, it is especially important to not let your pet touch or eat any strange plants, because they might be poisonous.

Montana Is Home to Some Dangerous—and Deadly—Plants

Some plants have evolved deadly ways to keep away predators. That is why you should make sure your pet leaves any suspicious foliage alone. The list below is not inclusive of all the plants in Montana that can put your pet in distress, but they are some of the most dangerous ones. 


Purple and white locoweed often grows in meadows and other wide open spaces. This is one of the few plants in Montana that is dangerous from the time it is a seed, all the way until the plant has shriveled and dried. Even then, dried locoweed is still dangerous if consumed by animals or humans, it can cause neurological and organ damage. 


There are two varieties of hemlock in Montana, and both can be deadly. Water hemlock is mostly found in wet conditions, and thrives at higher elevations. Poison hemlock is an agent of chaos, liking moist areas that are frequently disturbed, such as fence lines and the edges of paths. Both hemlock varieties are deadly if consumed, and depending on the amount ingested, can begin to shut down the vital organs in as little as 15 minutes.

Death Camas 

Foothills and Meadow Death Camas are the two common varieties of camas that can cause the most damage in Montana. While the names might make it seem like they stay in their respective areas, the truth is this plant is adaptable and lives anywhere from desert plains to the top of peaks. Both types of camas are often mistaken for wild onions. Every inch of these plants is poisonous. 

Sagebrush Buttercup

These small bunches of yellow flowers are lovely to look at and might not seem like much of a threat. However, with a hearty root system and short stature, Sagebrush Buttercups are quick to grow all over Montana. There are two ways this plant can hurt pets—its sap can cause blisters on contact, and it could even cause death if ingested.  

What to Do If Your Dog Eats a Dangerous Plant

1. Know the Signs

Poisonous plants can cause a number of symptoms, from paralysis, convulsions, vomiting, and diarrhea, to cardiovascular and respiratory failure. If you notice your pet snacking on some foliage, and a while later notice any of the above symptoms, contact your vet immediately. 

2. Take Pictures

NEVER touch poisonous plants with your bare hands. If you are unsure what your pet may have ingested, snap a picture of all the foliage around them. It might help a veterinarian pinpoint the problem more quickly. 

3. Have an Emergency Vet’s Number Saved

No matter where you go, if you have a pet, keeping the number for an emergency vet saved in your phone will help you in an urgent situation. If you plan on camping or hiking in an area that you are not familiar with, look into local emergency veterinarians ahead of time.

Poisonous Plants Are Not the Only Danger

Letting your pet chew on sticks and plants can still be dangerous, even if the plants are not poisonous. Hard objects like rocks and sticks can be a disaster for your pet’s dental health. Not only can they crack your pet’s teeth, splinters can become lodged in the soft tissues of their gums, cheeks, and throat. 

Dental problems cause severe pain and infections that keep your pet from enjoying themselves. But without regular dental checkups, you might not know that anything is wrong. If your pet seems to have lost their appetite or shies away when you touch their face, they might be suffering from tooth pain.

At Montana Pet Dentistry and Oral Surgery, we offer comprehensive dental care for both cats and dogs. Our team is the best in the state for dental pet care, from emergencies to scheduled cleanings. If your pet is due for a dental exam, contact us today to set up an appointment. 




Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (11/13/23). Photo by Natalia Gusakova on Unsplash.